Kissell raising most money in 8th District

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 3, 2012

By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY — If money is the fuel of campaigns, a few 8th Congressional District hopefuls are racing forward while others seem to be sputtering.
But some candidates say they can finish first even with a slow start, and it’s more important to look at who gave the money and how long it took to raise.
Third quarter campaign finance reports were due Tuesday to the Federal Election Commission, which has combined them with earlier reports from the same election cycle.
Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell raised $527,486 from individuals, party committees and political action committees through the end of 2011. That’s more than any of the six Republican challengers running for his seat so far.
New district boundaries have expanded North Carolina’s 8th District for the U.S. House into southern and eastern Rowan County. The district also includes parts of Cabarrus, Union, Davidson, Mecklenburg, Randolph and Robeson counties and all of Stanly, Montgomery, Anson, Scotland and Richmond counties.
N.C. Rep. Fred Steen raised the lowest amount of money through the end of the year, but all $20,260 comes from individual contributions. He spent $1,042 during the same time period.
“You’ve got to remember, we were the last ones in,” he said Thursday.
Steen, a Landis resident, officially entered the race in December. He said his campaign is building support quickly and getting a “very good response” from people who live in the 8th District.
His contributions largely come from Rowan and Cabarrus counties, including $1,000 from China Grove resident Bruce Jones, who recently stepped down as president and chief executive officer of Community Bank of Rowan.
“It’s a challenge, but I don’t think the district is for sale,” Steen said. “I think that folks are going to want a local candidate. They’re going to want somebody that’s a hometown guy, and I know I’m that candidate.”
Neurosurgeon and farmer John Whitley raised roughly the same amount as Steen from individual donors, but he reported $54,947 in total receipts. He loaned $27,000 of that to his campaign and gave another $7,652 of his own money.
Whitley is a Kannapolis native who now lives in the Robeson County town of Fairmont. He spent $29,997 through the end of last year.
Campaign consultant Andy Yates said Whitley plans to spend $500,000 to $600,000 for the primary race.
“John is going to have the money to wage a real campaign — a serious campaign — and get his message out to voters,” Yates said Thursday. “I think John’s got a compelling conservative message. … He’s blessed to be able to make a significant personal contribution, and we’re continuing to fundraise and build support across the district.”
Of the Republicans, perennial candidate Vernon Robinson raised the most money through the end of 2011. Other than a $25,425 loan from himself that he repaid, the rest of the campaign’s $354,339 came from individual donations. He spent $297,294.
Robinson, a former Winston-Salem City Council member, has about 5,000 individual contributors, campaign director Steve Arnold wrote in a press release Wednesday.
The release also criticized Richard Hudson, calling him a “Washington insider” compared to “grassroots conservative” Robinson.
“Richard Hudson has plenty of friends, but they are from all the wrong places, namely, in and around Washington, D.C.,” Arnold wrote. “A quick look at Hudson’s report shows that the vast majority of his contributions are coming from bureaucrats, political insiders, and special interest PACs (political action committees) in Washington.”
Richard Hudson, a business consultant, raised $260,389 in total, and about a third of that was given by non-party committees. His contributors include several current and former members of the U.S. House and Senate.
Hudson has lived in the nation’s capital and has worked on the campaigns of several Republican candidates.
But he said Thursday the “Washington insider” description is “not an honest accounting of me as a candidate.”
“It is true that I got support from Washington, because I have a record in Washington of being a consistent conservative,” Hudson said. “But I have more than 200 contributors from North Carolina. … I have a tremendous grassroots support base that none of my opponents have.”
Of the 8th District candidates, Hudson raised the most money in the last quarter of 2011, which he says shows he can raise money quickly for the general election.
Dan Barry, a Union County resident and businessman who serves on the Weddington Town Council, reported raising $126,146. That included a $1,000 loan from himself. He spent $185,485.
Scott Keadle, a former Iredell County commissioner who lives in Mooresville and works as a dentist in Salisbury, reported $173,165 in money raised, and he loaned $70,000 of that to his campaign. He spent $64,557.
Barry and Keadle did not return calls by press time Thursday.
In an email, Hudson wrote that Keadle’s campaign cycle reports include his previous 10th District campaign committee, which is still open while Keadle repays himself for earlier loans.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
Facebook: Karissa.SalisburyPost
2011-12 Election Cycle through Dec. 31, 2011

Candidate         Receipts    Distributions        Cash        Debt

Dan Barry        $126,146      $47,440      $78,707        $1,000
Richard Hudson        $260,389      $22,044    $238,346      $1,121
Scott Keadle        $173,165      $64,557    $108,643    $90,000
Larry Kissell        $527,486    $185,485    $351,835             $0
Vernon Robinson    $354,339    $297,294      $57,080             $0
Fred Steen          $20,260        $1,042      $19,218              $0
John Whitley          $54,947      $29,997      $24,951    $27,000

Fourth Quarter – Oct. 1 through Dec.31, 2011

Candidate          Receipts    Distributions
Dan Barry          $42,010      $41,444
Richard Hudson        $260,389      $22,044
Scott Keadle        $173,165      $64,557
Larry Kissell        $145,751      $45,087
Vernon Robinson    $156,860    $196,595
Fred Steen          $20,260        $1,042
John Whitley          $54,947      $29,997